Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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The Biggest Peeve of All

June 6, 2014

 

 

It’s a mouse-size pet peeve, but sometimes it roars within me like a lion. Frequent readers of this blog know I’m often at odds with my eighty-nine year old mother. Mom is not mellowing with age and is feistier than ever. She spends most of her time watching Court TV and putting down the government. When I call, my role is that of a human crossword puzzle, keeping her sharp, even though I become blunt in the process. Ninety-nine percent of the time I call her, but she infrequently dials me. This is where my pet peeve comes in. The conversation sounds painfully like this:
     

Ring….ring….ring….     
     

I pick up the phone. “Hello?”
     

A pause on the other end of the line. Finally, a sharp voice barks, “Who is this?”
     

It’s my mother. Her voice haunts me even in my sleep and I’d know it anywhere. But it irks me to have someone, especially my own mother, call ME on my phone and ask who I am! So I answer back, “Who’s this?”
     

After three or four volleys of this she hangs up.
     

A minute later the phone again rings. It’s her, of course. I pick up the phone and answer, “Hello?”
     

Silence. Then an angry, “W-h-o   i-s   t-h-i-s?”
     

“You called me,” I say. “Who are you?”
     

As she slams down the phone I can hear her grumble, “Well, the rudeness of some people!”
     

Realizing that treating an old woman like this, particularly one who gave birth to me, is probably going to land me in hell, I nevertheless pick up the phone when it rings the third time and offer up a cheery, “Hello?”
   

A lengthy silence. Then, “Stephen, is that you?”
     

“It might be. Did you dial someone named Stephen?” I ask. 
     

Her mind is extremely agile despite her age, but her hackles are up. I’ve been her son for sixty-one years but she’s too irritated to recognize my voice. 
     

Slam goes the phone.
     

I’ve had enough. This time when the phone rings I pick up the phone and say, “Hi Mom.” 
     

Stephen Franklin, is that you?”
     

I know I'm on thin ice when my middle name pops out. “Yes, it is.”
     

She’s unaware of all the devices on the market to identify callers (not that I needed help identifying her). She asks, “How did you know it was me?”
     

“Lucky guess.”
     

Society’s going to hell in a hand basket,” she bellows. “You wouldn’t believe the trouble I had getting through to you. And it’s a crime just how rude people are these days. No phone manners at all!” 
     

Twenty minutes later she’s still telling me what’s wrong with the world and I’m thinking about faking a bad connection, hanging up and putting my head in the oven. But I don’t. 
   

 I’m afraid of hell. And the oven needs cleaning.


What are your pet peeves?

 

 

 



Comments

32 Comments
You've opened a can of worms Stephen Franklin by asking us to share pet peeves. Lets see... 1. Lack of manners; you know the common 'please', 'thank you', 'excuse me'. 2. Drivers who don't acknowledge your letting them 'in' etc. 3. The lack of Net Etiquette. 4. Guys wearing their pants too low, revealing their briefs etc. 5. Cell phone conversations in common shared spaces. Turn the damn thing off. There are more... but that's enough for now.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 6, 2014
i think i'd have to lie and tell her she has the wrong number. :)
By: TexWisGirl on June 6, 2014
I don't know if any of the things that irritate me are small enough to be called pet peeves. It's the big stuff that has me hanging my head. You might want to read Maya Angelou's last book, Mom & Me & Mom. It's such a beautiful description of a mother-daughter relationship that began badly and ended beautifully. You need to read about a mom who would have done anything for her children. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 6, 2014
This PP is one of mine as well, however, I never would have tormented my mom over it...Stephen Franklin!!
By: Cranky on June 6, 2014
Oh boy.....that is a tough one - because well, she did birth and raise you. Wow. Well, I love my mom but we have our moments as well. My pet peeve with her is probably the thinking that there is only ONE way to do things or live or whatever. Bugs me.
By: Carrie on June 6, 2014
Lordy- you have the patience of Job with your Mom! My all time pet peeve after some folks not having any manners is cell phones. I keep telling my sweetie pie that I want a cell phone jammer. They are ilegal in this country but available in Great Britain. Nothing gets my panties in a bunch quicker than being in a quiet restaurant and having to endure someones insipid conversation. Puhleeese take it outside! Phew...there I feel better now! Have a great weekend !
By: Kathe W. on June 6, 2014
Ok Stephen Franklin..let's travel back in time to your childhood. "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom...can I have a glass of water?" Oh yeah- you did that! Just sayin!
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on June 6, 2014
Ha! What a great piece. And just to let you know, I will be closing my blog for a while, but will be checking in on my favorite blogs, like yours, periodically~
By: Shelly on June 6, 2014
It's people who break a rule, or even a law, because they believe they are the exception. (yeah, yeah... I just came home from the supermarket)
By: (not necessarily your) Uncle Skip on June 6, 2014
TAILGATERS! And I'm not talking about fans having a barbecue on the stadium parking lot a few hours before the game.
By: v on June 6, 2014
You have outdone yourself, Stephen, in the humor department. This one has me laughing hysterically. You wonder --don't you?-- if she really is as inept as she seems. My dad, now in a nursing facility, suddenly gets bad hearing when I suggest he call a relative who he complains never calls him. All of a sudden, he can't hear, then can't write the number down and is miserably frustrated and crying because of it...anyway, just wondering if a bit of manipulation is being played on your Mom's part.
By: Robyn Engel on June 6, 2014
I admire your patience with your Mom. Any person who calls ME and proceeds to ask, "Who is this?" will get the answer, "It's Jake from State Farm." My pet peeve? People who don't use their turn signal!
By: Pixel Peeper on June 6, 2014
I always hate those telemarketers who call you and when you pick up it says, "Please hold..." Why should I hold? You called me! I'm sure it's really so they can route the call to India or wherever, but it's still annoying.
By: PT Dilloway on June 6, 2014
Poor drivers! No imagination in that one.
By: red on June 6, 2014
I shouldn't laugh but this really IS funny! My mom is 86 and she accuses me of talking to fast. As for pet peeves, I am an impatient person. I want things done YESTERDAY. When people are lazy about completing a task it drives me to distraction!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on June 6, 2014
I get upset by people with predatory political comments. They open or divert conversations by political attack when the group was discussing something entirely different. Political whiners!
By: Tom Cochrun on June 6, 2014
i have quite a few pet peeves none of which comes to mind at this very minute :)
By: Fran on June 6, 2014
My pet peeves are the memes that go around with photos of people in Wal-Mart that cruelly slag people off for the way they look. And my mother too.
By: LL COOL JOE on June 7, 2014
Crazy, speeding, tailgating, lane-changing-without-signaling, passing-on-the-right drivers.
By: Tom Sightings on June 7, 2014
I feel I know your mum very well! My pet peeve? Rude, obnoxious people who verbally abuse others in public in an effort to sound important. Met a couple of this sort while on holiday.
By: Bryan Jones on June 7, 2014
This really ought to make me feel much better about having my mother-in-law living with us, but it doesn't. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on June 7, 2014
This is actually very funny, no disrespect to your mom. I may be going to hell too, because I got such a kick out of reading this. Wanna start a card game in hell?
By: on June 7, 2014
Just as well you have patience!
By: John on June 8, 2014
You're a meanie! When my husband calls me, he never sounds like himself. It's weird. Maybe the tiny speakers can't translate deeper tone qualities well. Good luck with that grumpy mom of yours. May the farce be with you. ;)
By: Lexa Cain on June 8, 2014
Funny! I have many pet peeves, but one that especially irks me is when someone is approaching a door at the same time I am, I will open the door for them and let them go first. Then they just walk through as if I owed it to them without even a smile, much less a "thank you". When that happens I say plenty loud enough for them to hear, "YOU'RE WELCOME!"
By: Scott Park on June 8, 2014
my pet peeves? people who can get the dishes to the sink but not inot the dishwasher. it's right there!
By: lime on June 8, 2014
You have stolen my first name to use as your middle name. How dare you??!!!
By: Franklin Bruce on June 8, 2014
While i hope to someday be a feisty, sharp old lady, i hope i'm not a cranky one like your mother. Pet peeves -- people who throw away pets. That one gets me!
By: mimi on June 8, 2014
People who don't return phone calls. I realize that Social Media has perhaps quadrupled the number of callers to a person or business. But I'm of the old school that says calls should be returned. Your conversation is amusing! :)
By: Michael Manning on June 9, 2014
First, I love your stories. Second, my pet peeve would be anything with chewing gum: people that chew with their mouth open, people that spit it on the ground or stick it on something where it should not be (i.e., underneath tables, on walls, etc.), people that pull it out of theirs mouths with their fingers like string cheese...grosses me out! I simply cannot chew gum for those reasons, amongst others.
By: STL Fan on June 9, 2014
Your mom provides such fodder. But hopefully for both of you, you stretch and shape the truth as most fine humour writers do. Pet Peeve? Parents who make blind threats to their kids in order to try to make them behave, when they have no intention on following through.
By: Hilary on June 9, 2014
Coincidentally, this is one of mine as well. I HATE HATE HATE when people do that! And I do the same as you.
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 10, 2014

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